I had something happen this week that has weighed heavy on my heart and in light of the recent LODD I feel it necessary to share.
This week we had a visitor to our small neighborhood fire station. We often get visitors that bring cookies or ask for directions, sometimes it is parents and their kids wanting to see the truck, and sometimes it is a drive-up medical call.
You really never know what you are going to get.
Well, this week was one I would have never expected. As the vehicle came to a stop in front of our station a little old man got out and began to make his way to me slowly. I met him halfway and asked if everything was okay.
“Well no, it really isn’t. See I have this friend. Well had a friend…”
His voice was shaky as he told me of his friend; he was an old fire chief from a big city and he had recently passed away.
I thought maybe he needed help with funeral preparations or perhaps help getting in touch with officials from his friends’ department. But that wasn’t it at all.
“His wife isn’t doing well”, he said.
“Health-wise, money, you name it. She is struggling… and I just don’t know where to turn. You guys were his only family”.
This hit me. I had never met the man but we were in fact, family. Sworn into a brotherhood, sworn to protect.
I instantly thought of First Timothy.
I had just read it a few days before. I really didn’t know what to do for this gentleman with me so I put him in touch with our union president but I didn’t want to stop there.
The first group I thought of was the IAFF. They have a page dedicated to Survivors Benefits. They mainly list scholarship opportunities for surviving children but that alone can take a giant weight off a parent’s shoulders. They also list several presumptive laws that may apply in a death outside of the line of duty such as heart attacks and some cancers.
The next group is the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. This group has a wealth of information and has a “have someone contact me” button. There is a section for state-specific benefits and federal benefits mapped out in PDF form. There is tax information for surviving spouses as well as support groups. For guys looking to get involved with supporting the children and widows of fallen brothers, this is the page you want to check out. There are opportunities galore whether it be as simple as sending a family a card up to organizing fundraising events.
The last thing I can recommend is getting in touch with a local church.
I know God is close to the Widows and Orphans and where God is -is where I want to be. Whether you would aim for it or not the traits of a firefighter that make us stand out from every other profession are the traits that draw people closer to God.
So to the Gentleman who came to visit me this week, I am sorry I wasn’t more help on the spot but I will be more prepared in the future.
To my brothers, check these links out guys and spread the word.